Your Most Reliable and Dependable Source

SADA at a crossroads; it must prove its worth now

The Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA), the much maligned agency that was created to address the vexing problem of poverty in the three northern regions, has once again come up with an ambitious agenda, that it claims will once and for all, lift residents of the most deprived regions in the country.

Last week in Accra, the authority launched two initiatives, namely the Agricultural Investment Guide and the Master Planning before an adoring crowd of politicians and well-wishers. Specifically, these initiatives, SADA says, are designed to help small-scale farmers and to help transform the cities and towns in the northern regions into gleaming urban centers much like Dubai.

By launching these intiatives, SADA was boldly sending a strong message to its sponsors and the rest of the country that it has recovered from allegations of corruption and inefficiency and was determined to do right by the huge responsibility thrust on its shoulders.

The initiatives are clearly ambitious, no doubt about that; transforming northern cities to look like Dubai, the glittering financial capital of the United Arab Emirates, won’t be an easy undertaking. It will require truckloads of capital, globs of cash to realize this goal. Dubai’s transformation was largely achieved with oil revenue, a source that the north lacks.

It is one thing to trot out initiatives, and it is quite another to see to it that they are successfully implemented and have the desired impact on their targets. I have always admired SADA for its commitment to improving the lot of the residents of the northern regions, but suffice to say that there will be a lot of obstacles thrown in the way of the agency achieving its goals.

There are those who have always doubted SADA’s ability to accomplish anything it assigns itself and much of this doubt is rooted in tribalism, very much grounded in the view that the northerner is not capable of advancing himself.

The challenge, therefore, is for SADA’s management to prove these naysayers wrong by making sure that the initiatives launched in Accra will achieve the intended results.

There is a lot at stake for SADA and it has to prove its worth now; last year, the agency was in the news for all the wrong reasons, accused of not doing what it was mandated by parliament to do. SADA was literally on the verge of being scrapped altogether, but as fate would have it, the agency was spared from the chopping block because the plight of the suffering masses of the north was more important to the government than the rantings of a wild-eyed and inexperienced journalist and his sponsors.

The launch of the initiatives comes at a crucial time as the northern regions continue to suffer incredible economic and financial disadvantages. There is no gainsaying the fact that the regions need SADA more than ever before and the reasons are obvious.

Despite claims to the contrary, the northern regions are still steeped in severe poverty and the income gap between them and the rest of the country continues to grow at an alarming rate. And there are no signs that the gap could be bridged or closed any time soon.

The last time SADA embarked on ambitious projects of this magnitude, it was viciously attacked and savaged by its critics and subsequently shamed into scaling them back. This must not be allowed to happen again with the two initiatives that were just launched.

There is no doubt in my mind that SADA is at a crossroads. All eyes are trained on it, the critics have their knives out ready for their pound of flesh. It’s success or failure depends to a large extent on the support of those who want a radical reduction in poverty in the north.

Northerners of good faith must put set aside petty partisanship and throw their weight behind SADA. Its success ultimately benefits all northerners. There is a lot riding on the shoulders of the agency; it cannot afford to fail.